The Craft Factor - Dimensions

Volume 11, Number 2 Summer 1986

Dimensions is the Saskatchewan Craft Council’s touring, juried, exhibition of Fine Craft open to all Saskatchewan craftspeople. Dimensions is a dynamic, colourful exhibition of thirty-five Fine Craft works in a wide variety of media. 
2013 celebrates the 30th  Dimensions exhibition organized by the Saskatchewan Craft Council. As we welcome Dimensions into our gallery once again, let us take a look back.

The thirty-five works in Dimensions '86 are as dynamic and varied as the works in Dimensions today.  

A sample of pieces from Dimensions '86

Dimensions 2013 at the Affinity Gallery

Annemarie Buchmann-Gerber is one craftsperson who has had work selected for numerous Dimensions over the years, including 1986.  
Annemarie Buchmann-Gerber
A Midsummernight's Dream - Dimensions 1986
(detail shown)

This year, Annemarie was awarded the Premier’s Prize Award for the Outstanding Entry, for her piece Homo Sapiens on Stitches.

Annemarie Buchmann-Gerber, Saskatoon
Homo Sapiens on Stitches
Photography: Grant Kernan, AK Photos

This piece, along with the other outstanding works in Dimensions 2013 can be viewed at the Affinity Gallery from November 15, 2013 to January 5, 2014

Reception: January 3 from 7-9pm

Tips on Pricing Your Craft - Part Two: An Equation for Pricing for Profit

Submitted by: Amanda Bosiak, Former Member Services Coordinator

This is Part Two of our "Tips on Pricing Your Craft" series.  This week looks at Pricing for Profit.

Realistically, how do you place a dollar figure on your work? And how do you make it a profitable figure? Many craft people use a Material Cost + Profit equation that all too often falls way short of the mark. How do you know how much “profit” is enough? And how much of that is really profit? Remember that you have costs related to selling your work that cut into that profit. If you sell your own work at markets, those expenses (booth fees, travel and meals, accommodations and time lost from your studio) all eat into your profit by 30% - 50%. If you sell your work by wholesale or commission, you also lose up to 50% off the retail price.

Well, there is a tried and true method known as “Cost Plus Pricing”. Here is the basic formula:


Here is a brief breakdown of that formula:

MATERIALS: This is pretty self-explanatory – the cost of materials for each piece.

WAGE: This is the really important part! If you aren't paying yourself a wage, you should really start now! Be reasonable and fair with yourself – start at minimum wage and add to it based on your experience, education etc. You can also think of the wage part of the equation as the minimum profit you will make on each sale – so if you are uncomfortable with working out a wage for yourself, put the minimum profit amount in its place. Now, whether you sell the work yourself, through wholesale or commission, you KNOW that you will profit at least that much!

OVERHEAD: This is the pro-rated amount of your annual utility bills (for studio and office space), packaging and office supplies, equipment and professional fees, etc. Even if you work out of a corner of your basement, living room or garage, you still have overhead.

COST: Now you see the real cost of your work, beyond the cost of materials!

X2 = RETAIL: Now you see what the retail value of your work really is!
After you apply the Cost Plus formula to your work, you will probably still have to do some adjustment for your customer base, competitive advantage, and tiered pricing levels. Adjustments can be made to round figures up or down to more “attractive” price points (amounts ending in 0, 5 or 9 for example: round an item that is $27.86 up to $30 or down to $25) or to allow for consistency in pricing between different sizes of similar products.
In addition, you may find that some products will require the application of “Added Value” strategies. Branding and packaging are two ways to do this. Also, offering “limited edition” work and including support material with your work such as a biography on yourself, and care instructions for your product, all add to the perceived value of your work.

If after all this you find that you have in fact been vastly under pricing your work, you will be in a position where you need to decide on a strategy for gradually increasing your prices. Should you find that you have been selling your work for half of what you need to in order to make a profit, it can be difficult to suddenly double all of your prices. It will be a shock to your customers, and a hard thing for you to confidently stand behind.

There are two times of the year when price increases are the easiest to apply, and these tend to fall during craft market and retail sales lulls; that is September (after summer sales, before Christmas sales) and January/February (after Christmas sales, before spring sales). So rather than doubling your prices at one time, try going up roughly 20% in the fall, and another 20% or so in the new year, or the next fall. New customers won’t know the difference, and your regular customers will take it in stride when you apply larger increases slowly over a set period of time.

Pricing your craft work – for profit and sales – is an ongoing process. Evaluating your prices every year or two should be a part of your business practice. There are a few other things to keep in mind:
Your costs will change (usually becoming higher) and so will your access to the materials you use for your work.
Your customer base will change – regular customer will age and experience income changes over time. New customers will require new products, and lower priced items to introduce them to your work.
The economy is in constant flux, with customers having varying amounts of disposable income from year to year. Even over the course of the year, as noted above, there are ebbs and flows in the annual spending cycle of the typical consumer.
Sometimes, it isn't the price of your work that keeps people from buying it. It could be that you are selling in the wrong markets (craft markets and/or stores/galleries with the wrong customer base). OR, the harder thing to admit to (on your ego and artistic soul), is it could be the product itself is not attractive to consumers, either in style or functionality. Consider your market and your product as you work towards successful sales, and good luck!

Tips on Pricing Your Craft

Submitted by: Amanda Bosiak, Former Member Services Coordinator

This two-part article is a summary of information provided in the SCC’s “Pricing your craft” workshop. The workshop is offered once or twice a year by the SCC in both Saskatoon and Regina. Groups or guilds can also request a presentation of the workshop by emailing

Pricing can be one of the most difficult aspects of a craft artist’s practice. Unlike the creative process, pricing is part of the business side of craft – the side that a) takes time away from the studio and b) forces an artist to consider the worth of their work. Simply put, pricing can be both annoying and scary. It is however, essential to the success of a craft artist’s career. Getting money for your work is one thing – making a profit from your work is an entirely different matter.
In my experience more often than not, craft artists under price their work. This happens for various reasons, but the most common are
  • The artist undervalues their own skill and experience: they are too humble to ask what they should be asking for their work
  • The artist worries that if they price their work at what it is worth, it will not sell
  • The artist has work they feel is similar to items available at big box and chain retail outlets, and they feel that in order to compete they need to have lower prices

Regardless of the reason for under pricing, the end result is the same. For one thing, under pricing because you don’t value your work can also lead to your customers undervaluing your work and you, as a creator. For another, it can mean that you are not making the money (profit) you should be making from your craft business. Under pricing can lead to financial loss. If you are hoping to make a living off of selling your craft, then you simply can’t afford to ask for less than what your product is worth.

As for competing with big box stores and the like – you aren’t. Craft purchasers are a distinct group of consumers, often separate from the group of consumers that frequent discount retailers and chain stores. Yes, there is some cross-over but generally speaking, your customer base is a group of people with discerning taste, who chose to shop locally and shop handmade as often as possible.

It is easy to forget this, because the odd person who comes to your booth at a market and gasps that the price is too high, are the people that stick in your mind. Forget them. They are not a part of your customer base.

Still worried about competing with big retail? Have a look at this mug from Anthropologie for $38 USD.  Or this handwoven scarf from Browns Fashion for $335 CAD.

Once you get over all the reasons (excuses!) you have for under pricing your work, there are a few Golden Rules to keep in mind about pricing.
  1. Always stand behind your price: Don’t undervalue yourself or your work by haggling with your customer.
  2. NEVER lower the price if an item isn’t selling. Instead you may need to look at ways to Add Value (make it more attractive to the customer). Alternately, you may need to assess the product: the price may not be the reason it isn’t selling. Does the product function in a way that fits your customer’s needs? Does the style speak to your current customer base while also attracting new customers?
  3. BE CONSISTENT. Whether you sell your work out of your studio, at a market or in a gift shop or gallery, the price should be the same at all locations. This is a basic professional practice.
  4. Provide a quality product! Whether it is a new product, or one you have been selling for years; make it well.
In the second part of this series on pricing, I will introduce you to the Cost Plus method for pricing for profit!  Stay tuned!

Packing Textiles for Storage and Shipping

Submitted by Judy Haraldson: Professional Craftsperson: Fibre, Former Exhibitions Coordinator, Saskatchewan Craft Council

While working for the Saskatchewan Craft Council in the Gallery / Exhibitions area for 10 years, I've seen some good packing of handcrafted pieces and a fair bit of bad packing.  The reason for packing textiles or any craft object properly, is to protect it from damage.  Similar ideas and methods apply when packing for storage or packing for shipping.

The kinds of damage you want to protect your pieces from suffering include:  mechanical, dirt, fluids, light, chemical, molds, and insects.  Mechanical damage of textiles involves cutting, creasing, tearing, snagging, and sagging.  Damage from dirt includes dust and any residues from body contact.  Fluids are water, mostly, but also could be humidity and other liquids like oils and solvents.  Light damage can be fading of dyes and fibre breakdown.  Chemical damage in this case results from contact with acid-bearing wood and paper products, as well as metal which can rust.  Molds include mildew.  Insect damage is a concern to all fibre lovers.  Hazards abound!

There are a few general themes for packing textiles.  Start clean and keep it clean.  Prevent creasing.  Keep it dark and dry.  Don’t let it touch damaging surfaces.  Watch for bugs and get rid of them.  Put it in sturdy containers.  Use breathable covers for long storage.  Use water resistance covers for shipping.

Clean is pretty straightforward; clean it before packing and cover it from dust.  This can also include keeping the textile dry and out of the light.  Make sure it is completely dry before packing and store it in low humidity.  For long term storage, covers and containers should be breathable.  Shipping involves other considerations and less permeable materials should be used.

Protection from damaging surfaces is less obvious.  Wood and many paper products contain acids which, over time, can discolour and / or break down fibres in contact with them.  Painting wood with water-base urethane or latex paint provides protection.  Use acid-free paper products or use protective liners to prevent direct contact with the textile.  Cloth covers should be washed unbleached cotton; old white cotton sheets work very well.  Metal surfaces can rust or oxidize and stain textiles; again, use protective liners.  Plastics are neutral inert surfaces.

There is lots of information on fibre-damaging insects and what to do about them.  Isolate the infested or suspicious textile and kill the culprits by the method least harmful to the textile.  Repeated deep freezing works pretty well.  Mothballs are no longer considered to be very safe.  Insecticides require a lot of caution.  Inspect long term storage conditions regularly.

Containers for textiles need to protect from mechanical, chemical, and fluid damage.  For shipping, sturdy cardboard boxes with plastic covers on the textile are fine.  Plastic containers are very good for shipping.  For longer storage of textiles, drawers that have been painted with urethane are best.  Plastic containers can be used but textiles should be taken out and inspected and aired every so often.  Cardboard containers must be lined with neutral materials.

Creasing results from folding textiles and can strain fibres causing them to weaken and eventually break.  Keep small flat textiles (eg. runners, doilies) as flat as possible; if you need to fold them, pad the fold.  Large or long flat textiles can be rolled and covered.  Use a cloth covered rolling tube, and roll carefully without creases.  Make sure the roll is large enough in both diameter and length.  Tapestries and pile textiles are rolled face out, i.e with the back toward the roll.  Textured textiles (eg. beaded or embroidered) need padding between the layers whether folded or rolled.

Garments require some special considerations.  For long term storage, laying out flat puts little strain on seams and hanging parts, but folds must be padded to prevent creasing.  Acid-free tissue paper rolls or fabric pads are best.  Shipping a garment involves making it as compact as possible while keeping creasing to a minimum, and protecting it from mechanical and fluid damage.  Plastic tote boxes, cotton cloth covers and pads, or zippered sweater bags in sturdy cardboard boxes are some methods.  If your garment is going to be unpacked and repacked, include specific and clear instructions with photos or diagrams to ensure it is done right.

Three-dimensional objects need special packing for shipping, especially if they are fragile.  Framed pieces should be covered with bubble pack, then packed in a box large enough to include packing materials on all sides.  Irregularly shaped pieces should be packed in such a way that extending bits are supported and the object cannot shift within the packing materials.  Bubble pack envelopes are good for tiny objects.  Styrofoam chips are good packing material, but if possible, contain them inside plastic bags.

There is quite a bit of information out on the Internet about textile conservation and storage.  Here are some web sites to check out: